Children can be incredibly inquisitive when it comes to technology and it isn’t unusual for parents to use devices like tablets and smartphones to occupy their child.
What can start out as an innocent gesture could however develop into a worrying habit – with children as young as four years old reportedly becoming addicted. Experts have warned that allowing young children too much time with these kinds of devices can lead to an addiction and cause long-term effects.
In 2012 Ofcom reported that 37% of three to four-year-olds were spending time online. In another survey conducted by parenting website, babies.co.uk, it was discovered that the children of one in seven parents spend four hours or more playing with a smartphone or tablet every day.
This issue gained publicity when a four-year-old girl had to be treated for an iPad addiction by Dr Richard Granham at the Capio Nightingale Hospital in London. Dr Granham has said he has seen the trend emerging since 2011. He originally set up his 28-day addiction programme (costing £16,000) to help adult gamers detox, but soon enough he found himself treating school students who were unable to concentrate on their studies because of an addiction to social media.
“It has crept up on everyone,” says Dr Granham, who is now treating about two adolescents a week.
He says the first step in checking whether or not your child is a tech addict is to note down how much it interferes with everyday activities including eating dinner and getting ready for bed. If you find your child has an intense reaction when you ask them to stop, compared to say, when you ask them to turn off the TV, you should take this as a warning sign.
Experts differ in their opinions about the appropriate amount of time children should be spending on devices, but the common thread appears to be that when their usage gets in the way of daily life – it needs to be addressed.
Hypnotherapy is becoming more and more popular for treating Internet addiction – to find out more, please see our Internet Addiction page.
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